Privacy in a World of Social Media II

November 5, 2013
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Following on from a previous article about privacy in a world of social media, today we look a little further into the subject.

In this technological age, is the notion of privacy obsolete? How has technology changed the way we act, interact, and expect others to act?

It’s so easy to push send in a moment of clouded judgment and then not only does the intended recipient have your information but technically it can be spread more quickly than the time it takes for you to sleep it off and wake up with that deep sense of regret. The regret one feels at not having torn up the letter before licking the stamp and dropping it into the mailbox.

Before everything was recorded and documented so casually and excessively, we were the same exhibitionistic and voyeuristic lot of animals that we are today. The only difference is that the decisions we make today will forever be in the great memory banks of computers; memory banks that can be investigated by a larger and larger number of people. The choices we make at fifteen or eighteen or thirty can impact our futures in a whole new way.

Jobs have been lost, marriages have been dissolved and friendships have been destroyed as the result of indiscretion in a day and age where discretion is nearly impossible to achieve. We don’t necessarily behave any differently than we did before our whole lives became our Warholian 15 minutes. It’s just that now our behavior is public. And it’s constant.

Where before there may have been an inclination to experiment with a persona, we are now inundated with forums to create and recreate ourselves almost daily. Where these personality facelifts may have gotten us padded walls not so long ago, today it’s the norm. Our expectations of ourselves and of one another are like sound bites. Face of the day. Mood of the moment…

We interact with one another in incomplete sentences or emoticons via smartphones and other devices. We can just as easily paint the portrait of a perfect life on Facebook as we can tweet our depression to the same audience.

On the other hand, we are a continually changing species. Perhaps there is more truth in complete exposure. Maybe as a result of having less privacy and taking less time to edit our expression we will ultimately feel less shame. Maybe we will realize the thread of humanity that runs through each of us and which takes us to idiotic places and leads us to poor decision making every now and again. Perhaps technology will slowly blow the lid off the social norms as we all act out in our own peculiar ways for any and all to see.

In any case, our world has changed and the way we live in it is different. There are and will continue to be new ways of navigating relationships of every kind. From strangers to family members, technology or lack thereof has come to dictate the nature of the ways we relate.

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